THE FATAL MALLET
Keystone-Mutual 1120 ft., rel. June 1, 1914 (The Knockout) dir. Mack Sennett, auth. Mack Sennett cast: Charlie Chaplin, Mack Sennett, Mabel Normand, Mack Swain finished: 5/16/1914 Location: Echo Park, Los Angeles
February 14, 2017 Subject:
Hammers and Bricks r Us
This is typical Keystone with lots of butt-kicking, and the added bonus of skulls being smashed with big hammers. However Mabel looks divine in her lovely summer dress. Mack Sennett is Mabel’s country hick boyfriend (oh how he loved to put down his oafish farm boy peers).
The plot is somewhat realistic as Charlie Chaplin and Mack Swain have designs on the gorgeous Mabel. Charlie we know was anxious to get off with the Keystone Girl, although I doubt clumsy Mack Swain was in the running. As in this film, Mack Sennett kept a careful watch on Mabel in real life – he was not just her producer, but her Svengali too.
Mabel is somewhat bemused by Sennett’s clumsy love overtures, but she seems enamoured with the world’s richest buffoon. Enter the lustful Charlie, who soon starts to push Mack around, then carries Mabel away like some Helen of Troy, while Mack is distracted. Of course, Mabel is always fickle, and happily responds to Charlie’s juggling tricks behind an old shed. They are discovered by Sennett who creeps behind the pair and kicks Charlie in the rear. Thinking it was Mabel, he kicks her in the derriere. Mabel responds by smiling, then giving Charlie a whack in the face. Miss Keystone runs off, back into the arms of Sennett, who begins to push her on a swing, which is handily lying around. An angry Charlie runs towards them, but Mack, of course, rams the swinging Mabel into him, and all-out war begins. Charlie throws a brick at the couple, hitting Mabel in the face, while Mack gallantly ducks behind a tree. Plucky Mabel throws the brick back, and an angry Charlie confronts the couple. Naturally Mack has to take some action, and Mabel is delighted when her hero pushes up his sleeves ready to knock Charlie out. Unfortunately, it’s Mack who gets knocked out, prompting a shocked Mabel to run off into the arms of Mack Swain, who has conveniently arrived on the scene. To cut a long story short, the film now enters mallet mode, where Mack and Charlie first dispose of Swain with a whack on the head, then try to kill each other with mallets and bricks, while Mabel suffers collateral damage.
An unusual scene then occurs, when a boy discovers Mabel alone, and takes the opportunity to manhandle (boyhandle?) the forlorn beauty. This is surely the luckiest kid in Edendale, for in no other Keystone film has any actor got to fondle the fair Mabel without getting a slap in the face. In any event, Charlie makes short work of the kid by drop-kicking him into performing a 108. Unfortunately, both Chaplin and Swain then end up in Echo Park Lake, while Sennett gets the goods in the form of Mabel the enchanting. Well, he would, wouldn’t he!